Considering the 50mm...

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Interesting article and lots of stuff new to me, but cine frames on early 35mm film were 24mm x 18mm (4:3) whereas still photography used two adjoining cine frames, and gave us 3:2 with 36mm x 24mm frame dimensions. Many times I've read that our beloved 50mm lenses are closer to 52mm in focal length.
 

Sirius Glass

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Thank you
 

guangong

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At first reading, because the author is so fixated by 50mm lenses, one gets the impression that there were no other cameras in existence until the Leica. All of those early press and folding cameras had lenses that were not 50 mm. Also, it was not just advertising and marketing. Schott Glass became a part of Zeiss to research and manufacture optical glass for the German optical industry, Abbe and others put the study and manufacture of lenses on a scientific industrial basis. It’s one thing to deign a lens that meets all specifications, but quite another to economically manufacture a lens with those desired specifications.
Probably one reason that the 50mm lens is so popular is that it is the most economical to manufacture and get quality results. Most fixed lenses are some variety of 50mm Tessar.
Most interchangeable lenses, especially for rf cameras, have the exact focal length somewhere on the lens to assist the camera mechanic during repairs. During assembly slight variations in focal length from that engraved always exist.
As for what is “normal” depends upon who is behind the lens. Also, the camera, subject, etc.
Just want to add that one of my late friends, who was a world renown photographer, worked almost, but not always, with a 50mm lens and a Leica. Some feel more comfortable with a 35mm or even a 28mm. Some like a 75mm. The only Hasselblad lens I owned for the longest time was a 60mm f4.
Having said all this, the piece was well crafted, although I would have preferred that Professor Abbe be given credit for developing optical theory regarding microscope lenses. Three remarkable men: Abbe, Zeiss and Schott, who rejected the inheritance of wealth by setting up the Carl Zeiss Stifftung for the advancement of optical science.
 

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I've read this very article a couple hours ago, thanks to my news feed. It's interesting, but I think involving eyesight is a bit far fetched. I personally always felt that 40-42 mm lenses of certain Japanese rangefinders are closer to the way I see the world, rather than 50 mm normal lenses.
 

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In 1966 I bought my Minolta SR-7 [used] for my first summer working in Italy it had an f/1.4 58mm lens which was a bit longer focal length than the 50mm I had been using. The 58mm became my "normal" for years and I should have never sold it while I was using Minoltas. Since then 50mm [80mm for 6x6] has been my normal. Now I find my 100mm Hasselblad lens to be a little long for normal and yet it is only slightly longer proportionately than the 58mm.
 

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Interesting article. I just sold my 50mm lenses (both EF and F mount, along with all my Nikon and Canon lenses save one).

I used to enjoy shooting 50mm primes while walking around Asia. I dont care the reasons behind it, it just seemed natural.
 

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The 50mm. Why use anything else if you want to change position and control natural perspective?
 

M-88

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In 1966 I bought my Minolta SR-7 [used] for my first summer working in Italy it had an f/1.4 58mm lens which was a bit longer focal length than the 50mm I had been using. The 58mm became my "normal" for years and I should have never sold it while I was using Minoltas. Since then 50mm [80mm for 6x6] has been my normal. Now I find my 100mm Hasselblad lens to be a little long for normal and yet it is only slightly longer proportionately than the 58mm.
Now that you mentioned it, Zeiss Biotar was also a 58 mm lens and its crude copy, Soviet Helios-44 plagued 1/6th of the world with "normal" 58 mm. And we shouldn't forget M42 Takumar lenses with 55 mm focal length which are top notch. I'm talking about 55/1.8
 

albada

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I've read this very article a couple hours ago, thanks to my news feed. It's interesting, but I think involving eyesight is a bit far fetched. I personally always felt that 40-42 mm lenses of certain Japanese rangefinders are closer to the way I see the world, rather than 50 mm normal lenses.

Agreed. I have tested my own perception of "normal" several times by estimating what width I regard as normal in some scene, and then zooming a lens to match that width. It always lands in the range 40-45 mm.

Mark Overton
 

AgX

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Interesting article and lots of stuff new to me, but cine frames on early 35mm film were 24mm x 18mm (4:3) whereas still photography used two adjoining cine frames, and gave us 3:2 with 36mm x 24mm frame dimensions. Many times I've read that our beloved 50mm lenses are closer to 52mm in focal length.

In cinematography the standard focal length is calculated differently anyway.
Reason is the different angle under which the image is considered typically to be viewed.
 

MattKing

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I think part of the reason that 50mm lenses seem so "comfortable" to many people is that it is the (135 film) focal length they started with.
I must tend toward peripheral version, because I feel most comfortable with a 35mm lens (on 135 film).
EDIT: it does seem to vary with the individual. I wonder what focal length Marty Feldman preferred:
marty_feldman_512.jpg
 

Sirius Glass

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Agreed. I have tested my own perception of "normal" several times by estimating what width I regard as normal in some scene, and then zooming a lens to match that width. It always lands in the range 40-45 mm.

Mark Overton


That is a function of the prism's optics rather than the lens field of view or perspective. A prism can be designed to allow any chosen focal length to appear to be "normal".
 

ic-racer

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If the 35mm frame were a square; 36x36mm, then the diagonal is 50mm.
 

Sirius Glass

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If the 35mm frame were a square; 36x36mm, then the diagonal is 50mm. That is the mathematical relationship.

No, 36mm is the length. 24mm x 24mm would have a diagonal of 33.94mm.
 

ic-racer

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If the 35mm frame were a square; 36x36mm, then the diagonal is 50mm.
That is a true statement.
 

Theo Sulphate

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... I have tested my own perception of "normal" several times by estimating what width I regard as normal in some scene, and then zooming a lens to match that width. It always lands in the range 40-45 mm.
...

Likewise, I've observed something similar with zooms. Typically when I view a scene at a distance I like, then raise the camera to my eye, I'll usually discover that I've zoomed to between 45-50mm.

However, I may have "trained" myself since I'd used nothing but a 55/2 Super Takumar for 15 years.
 

Arklatexian

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If the 35mm frame were a square; 36x36mm, then the diagonal is 50mm.
That is a true statement.
All that bis fine, but the 35mm that I buy and use is not 24x24mm, nor 36x36mm, instead it is 24 x 36mm, now what is the diagonal or should I turn the computer off, get out my measuring stick and find out for myself?......Regards!
 

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diag = sqrt( (24**2) + (36**2)) = 43.3
 

blockend

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The problem with 50mm lenses on 35mm film is it's difficult to get everything sharp if there are different planes of focus. A half length figure and a distant building (for example) are difficult to render sharply in the same image, without risking some combination of shake and softness through diffraction. Setting a hyperfocal distance helps, but can't cure the problem completely.

There is no rule that says every element must be sharply in focus, but it's easier to attain with wide angle lenses. That's one of the reasons 28mm was adopted as a "street" standard on 35mm film. Another possibility is a small negative/sensor.
 

M-88

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The problem with 50mm lenses on 35mm film is it's difficult to get everything sharp if there are different planes of focus. A half length figure and a distant building (for example) are difficult to render sharply in the same image, without risking some combination of shake and softness through diffraction. Setting a hyperfocal distance helps, but can't cure the problem completely.

There is no rule that says every element must be sharply in focus, but it's easier to attain with wide angle lenses. That's one of the reasons 28mm was adopted as a "street" standard on 35mm film. Another possibility is a small negative/sensor.
I agree with everything you said there and probably the best 50 mm in terms of corner to corner sharpness including DOF was Tessar, no?

Another reason for 28 mm to be adopted for streetjob is that it captures much wider image than 50 mm.
 
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